Moving now

I should have wrote sooner but was too busy moving to even blog. Well, we've in the middle of Texas tonight as we take a break from driving from Austin to L.A. A crazy day and another one tomorrow. Will blog as time permits later in the week...


Priceless: debt which keeps taking

I saw the following story at a mailing list and had to blog on it:

Larry Wittkugle keeps getting dunned for an old Household Bank credit card that he paid off in 1996. Every so often, a different debt collector jars his retirement with a stern letter urging him to pay off the account again.

It seems that these old debt can come back to bite you, over and over:
Debt: the "gift" that keeps on taking
Or how about:
Selling old debt to collection firms: pennies on the dollar
Collecting on the old debt: multi-hundred percent profits [by the collection firms]
The ability to resell the debt to collectors, again and again: priceless
What's sad is that the Jews knew it well enough [or at least King Solomon] long time ago to put it succintly:
The rich rule over the poor,
and the borrower is servant to the lender.
Proverbs 22:7
To rephrase Santayana's famous saying using the ideas found in the introduction to Proverbs:
Those who cannot learn from the wisdom of the past are condemned to suffer the life of the foolish.
Copyright, 2006, DannyHSDad, All Rights Reserved.


Top Ten Bubble Cities for 2006

Forbes has their list out last week: "Most Overpriced Places In The U.S. 2006". Unfortunately for me, we'll be moving to the 10th worst place to live. All the more reason why I'm interested in the Bubble blogs like Ben Jones' The Housing Bubble Blog.


Family commitment and divorce

I found "Should you stay together for the kids?" while looking for real estate bubble news at MSNBC Today's show. It certainly is such a contrast to what I just read this morning:

Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?"

"Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

"Why then," they asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?"

Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery."

The disciples said to him, "If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry."

Matthew 19:3-10, NIV

Housing Bubble Guide

I found Wikipedia's US housing bubble page up-to-date and contains a lot of good pointers.


Heat from the Rich

The rich rule over the poor,
and the borrower is servant to the lender.
-- Prov 22:7
The latest Pulse survey of the homeowners are eye opening. Some choice quotes:
  1. By a two-to-one margin, people are worried about their monthly housing payments
  2. About six in ten say that high property taxes and rising energy costs could cause them to sell their home
  3. More than one third are worried that they may have to sell their home and buy a less expensive one because they are unable to pay rising monthly payments
Record heat may be around for a while, so hang on to your hat. The housing market meltdown isn't over yet....

Copyright 2006, DannyHSDad, All Rights Reserved.


Hot Squeeze

The record temperature across the U.S. this week will result in a shocker for many homeowners: due to higher oil prices, both natural gas and electric rates are up this year and the extra cooling costs will hit many people's bottom line very hard. I was mildly surprised by our electric bill for last month. Imagine the bill for this month!

And since a car eats more gasoline to cool via AC rather than rolling down the window (our Volvo I use to commute to work has a broken AC so I have braved the hot Texas weather for the last 3 years or so), people's budget will be squeezed if not squished over the next few months: not only higher energy costs but also higher food bills (most/many fruits and veggies are trucked out of California if not imported from other countries), higher interest rates on credit cards and adjustable mortgage rates, to name a few variables.

Update: 7:30AM, California had record power usage yesterday. And more heat expected nation-wide for a while...

Copyright 2006, DannyHSDad, All Rights Reserved.


Repo Madness

Oil price (i.e., gasoline) is predicted to hit car loans where people will stop making their payments and end up repossessed!

So people with their exotic mortgages will be squeezed from the banks and end up foreclosed, while their cars will be repo'ed. Not a pretty picture of coming economic storm....

Copyright 2006, DannyHSDad, All Rights Reserved.


The Power of Play

David Elkind's "The Power of Play" is coming out in Jan'07 but NPR has a summary of the book.

I love this quote from Surgeon General's Conference on Children's Mental Health in 2000:
[due to little or no play time:] "Growing numbers of children are suffering needlessly because their emotional, behavioral and developmental needs are not being met by the very institutions that were explicitly created to take care of them." [...] the surgeon general also suggests that some two-thirds of children in this country suffer one or another health problem. Thirteen percent of our children are obese. We have more than 2 million children on Ritalin and other ADHD medications. This may be the first generation of American children who are less healthy than their parents. [bold is my own highlighting]
And he gets at my favorite topic of the evils of schooling (and why I prefer "home education" not homeschooling):
Our schools are now contributing to the suppression of curiosity, imagination and fantasy. Some 40 thousand (and counting) elementary schools have eliminated recess in favor of more time for academics. Our increasingly test-driven curricula have all but eliminated creative, and playful teaching practices. Increasingly rote-learning methods are used to prepare children for the all too frequent assessments. Brazilian educator Paulo Freire wrote that education either "liberates" or "domesticates." Colonial powers once used rote-learning methods to domesticate the natives of the country, and to make them obedient to external authority. Rote learning is an anathema to, critical, and innovative, thinking.
Which is why I'm against memorization for its own sake and any kind of standardized testing -- I'm a big advocate of anti-testing or non-testing. It's one thing to check one's proficiency (like driving skills) but any artificial testing (especially the standardized kind) orients the people (children and adults) to obey arbitrary authority rather than to encourage independent thoughts and actions. The purpose of testing, contrary to what most people have been brainwashed to believe, is not to see how much you know of a given material but how successfully you can guess what answers "they" are looking for. The point of prep-tests and pre-tests and test taking courses (and even "pop quizzes") are to help you get used to the kind of answers they are seeking.

A proficiency check is how consistently can you do a certain action with predefined "goal" (like making 9 out of 10 free throws or firing a gun within 1 inch of the bullseye). Testing is more exact: either you get it right or you don't. Some things like math or physics is easier to test for but even in math there are many theorems and paths you can take to get to the "right" answer -- but if you don't take the "acceptable" path, you probably will not get the grade. With spelling, it is mere rote memorization: you learn to obey and do one thing only the one way.

Getting back to Elkind's writing, here's my favorite excerpt:
I now appreciate that the silencing of children's play, is as harmful to healthy development, if not more so, than is the hurrying of children to grow up too fast too soon.
And my favorite advice:
Remember that it's okay for kids to be bored.
Elkind's older books "Hurried Child" and "Ties that Stress" sound interesting, as well. I look forward to reading them as soon as we move (although my to-read list is always growing). I suspect, however, that what he says will not be too different from "Einstein never used flash cards" (the subtitle is 'How our Children Really Learn and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less').

Copyright 2006, DannyHSDad, All Rights Reserved.


Aroma Linguistics: remote 2-way device

"Japanese gadget records, replicates order" will allow smell as a form of communications and with such device, the smell can be transmitted near and far. Could make a great alternative to braille for someone like Helen Keller!

Copyright 2006, DannyHSDad, All Rights Reserved.

Parental Rights: medical care by choice

I find it ironic that choice is available to parent(s) before a child is born (to abort him, of course) but when it comes to medical care for the child after birth, very little choice is there. For example, you must vaccinate your child [I was threatened by an intern doctor in ER (in the great state of PRK) to be reported to CPS when I mentioned we choose to not vaccinate our children].

The case of Starchild Abraham Cherrix and his cancer fight is most frustrating. I heard about it on NBC Today's show and they introduced it as if the parents were irresponsible and choosing to let him die with inaction while the State wanted to force him to go through chemo therapy. It turns out they (esp. Abraham, the 16 year old) did the research and choose to go with herbal therapy.

What I also find ironic is that it's OK (by the State) to do experimental "modern medical" procedures [under State control] but alternative medicine "hasn't been proven" so is not State approved and the State can choose to usurp whatever a patient decide, esp. if he happens to be a minor. How convenient: Only what the State controls is what they will approve. All others are wrong choices. Sigh.

Copyright 2006, DannyHSDad, All Rights Reserved.


Problem with Money

If you owe the bank $100, that's your problem. If you owe the bank $100 million, that's the bank's problem. -- John Paul Getty

It's unfortunate that the reality of big government makes this not really true. Here's my update:
  1. Borrow 100K, it is the borrower's problem.
  2. Borrow a few million, it is the bank manager's problem.
  3. Borrow a few billion, it is the bank's problem.
  4. Borrow a few trillion, it is the taxpayers' problem.
[The idea started with CentralBanker's comment @ housing bubble blog, which I've reword it and then found Getty's quote via google afterwards.]

Copyright 2006, DannyHSDad, All Rights Reserved.


Taking responsibility: Why I Support Lt Watada.

Nuremberg Trials prosecuted on the war crimes acted out by the Nazi officers. In essence, the officers were put on trial for not acting on their conscious rather than blind obedience. The immoral actions of killing Jews and other "undesirables" should have been stopped by the "middle management" [the officers carrying out Hitler's orders].

The question is: how does one know if their order is immoral? And who decides? It is easy to judge in hindsight or after the fact [e.g., Holocaust] but how does one know in the midst of the action and the decisions have to be made?

No commanders or even man made laws will help you make the right moral decision. Only moral source like the Bible can offer any meaningful guide.

Anyway, I don't know what Lt Watada is basing his moral guidance on, but if he decides his orders are immoral then I'd say good for him: at least he has counted the cost and made his intensions known clearly and will take whatever is coming to him.

Copyright 2006, DannyHSDad, All Rights Reserved.

Update 10PM:

Here's another take on Lt Watada: "Karen Kwiatkowski: All Hail Lt. Watada!"

Envy of other people's spending

I found "Keeping Up with the Joneses Can Put You Behind" by Laura Rowley to be indicative of today's problem of too much debt: You see your friends and neighbors buying and spending on things more than you. So you want to do the same. Most of us don't have the money to do it in cash so we turn to financing, i.e., debt. And we dig ourselves a little bit deeper for every time we turn to credit rather than savings. However, as the book "The Millionaire Next Door" points out, it's not how much you make and spend but how much you don't spend that makes you a millionaire [buy used goods, live below one's means, save money and invest]. So this envy and spending doesn't do a person any good in the long term. In fact, the Bible puts this very issue in straightforward terms:
You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
Exodus 20:17
Here you see the simple principle in being worry free and the first step on the path to riches: don't covet.

Copyright, 2006, DannyHSDad, All Rights Reserved.


Educational cheating

It seems that there are web pages which sucks in people's blog without attributions. So I'm going to put copyright notice.

Copyright 2006, DannyHSDad, All Rights Reserved.

Are you being tested in secret?

"Artificial blood experiment: is your city participating?" Apparently, the government has allowed Northfield labs to test their fake blood on people who need blood in ambulance and will by default be on this for 24 hours, even after getting to a hospital which can give you real blood [esp. if you have your own blood in the blood blank].

And unless you wear an exemption bracelet (from Northfield), you will turn into a guinea pig instantly as soon as you get in an ambulance (and need blood). Check the list to see if your city is a lab or not.

Copyright 2006 DannyHSDad, All Rights Reserved.

Self directed study because of computers

I find this article very interesting "Wireless PCs Motivate Students Says Study":
Notebook PCs increase student [6th graders] motivation while encouraging technology skills, according to a recent report.

Students are self-directed and get highly personalized instruction with their own computers and Internet access,

So, if students can get lots of study done on their own with a computer with wireless network, why not do their studies at home? And if they can do it at home, why is school needed?

My sons write games with Stagecast [they each have their own hand-me-down notebook computers without internet access] and they have written pretty complicated programs given the limitations of the tool.

Copyright 2006 DannyHSDad, All Rights Reserved.


Taking action: refusing to go to Iraq

Here is a man who refuses to go to Iraq to fight what he calls an illegal war: First Lieutenant Ehren Watada. And he is willing to suffer for his action, to face what could be several years of military prison.

As someone who is anti-war, I applaud what Lt Watada is doing. And with electronic pay system, it's easy to donate!


Let freedom ring!

Happy 230rd!

I'm working on Declaration of Empowerment, but won't have time to finish today, but do check my Men's Studies page, where I'll post it....

Meanwhile, you can read my "Man's Laws vs God's Liberty."

Give me liberty or give me death
-- Patrick Henry

Man's Laws vs God's Liberty

Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you
will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:31,32.
The simple facts of laws are:
  • God's Laws create liberty.
  • Man's laws take away freedom.
God created order out of chaos:

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep,
and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, "Let there be
light," and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and He separated
the light from the darkness. Genesis 1:2-4
And by creating laws, He created liberty:

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place, Psalm 8:3
This is what the LORD says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who
decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its
waves roars -- the LORD Almighty is his name. Jeremiah 31:35
The moon and stars not only exists but because of the laws set in place, these bodies move in prescribed paths. You may not see it as freedom but they move through space in relative "freedom" -- rather than random objects randomly crashing into each other.

God's Laws, namely the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20), prescribe how we humans can best live in this world, to get along with those around us. Unlike space objects, we can choose to follow the Law or not, each with their consequences.

On the flip side, any law which man writes will always restrict the liberty of one person or another. [Restating the Ten Commandments do not count, obviously.] Liberty is what God gives us with our free will to choose how our freedom is used (or abused). Anything humans write will only limit these freedom, since no more freedom than what God has defined is ever available.

When humans organize into a group [nation, state, etc.], they do so in vain, as the Psalmist points out:

Why do the nations conspire
and the peoples plot in vain?

The kings of the earth take their stand
and the rulers gather together
against the LORD
and against his Anointed One.

"Let us break their chains," they say,
"and throw off their fetters."

The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord scoffs at them.
-- Psalm 2:1-4
God laughs at human attempts to free themselves from Himself and His Laws, which always results in less freedom and stronger bondage: tyranny and dictatorship, as we have seen rampantly over the past 100 years.

My point? Don't count on "getting back" freedom from the State. Be centered on God's Laws and exercise your God given freedom, with both responsibility and respect [for God's Laws not man's laws].

Copyright 2006, DannyHSDad, All Rights Reserved.